William Dupont named to AIA College of Fellows

(February 21, 2013) -- The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently named UTSA’s William Dupont to the AIA College of Fellows, an honor awarded to the most accomplished professionals in the field of architecture. An expert in heritage conservation, Professor Dupont is the director of UTSA’s Center for Cultural Sustainability. He also serves as Program Coordinator for the UTSA College of Architecture’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, where he teaches graduate courses in historic preservation and architectural design.

From a national membership of more than 80,000, just over 3,000 are AIA Fellows. Fellowship is one of the highest honors the AIA can bestow upon a member. Elevation to Fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of architects as individuals, but also elevates before the public and the profession those architects who have made significant contributions to architecture and to society. The goals of the College of Fellows are to share interests among Fellows, promote the purposes of the Institute, advance the profession of architecture, mentor young architects, and increase service to society.

Dupont began his professional career in Philadelphia in 1986 following the completion of his architectural education at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent four years working as a Historical Architect for the New Jersey Historic Trust, where he administered the state’s $47 million preservation grant program. From 1996 to 2007 Dupont served as Chief Architect and Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where he provided exemplary stewardship of the organization’s historic resources. The Trusts’ purview grew from 15 to 28 sites in 15 states, ranging from an American Indian pueblo to presidential sites and masterpieces of American architecture.

Dupont first came to San Antonio in the late 1990's to work on a local project — the preservation of Walter Mathis’ King William home — for the National Trust. Later, he met Julius Gribou, then the Dean of the College of Architecture at UTSA, and in 2007 joined the faculty as the San Antonio Conservation Society Endowed Professor to teach graduate courses and expand the college’s historic preservation track. In 2008, he launched UTSA’s Graduate Certificate Program in Historic Preservation in accordance with guidelines published by the National Council for Preservation Education. The program has certified 33 students to date. Four out of five of these concurrently received the Master of Architecture degree.

Dupont teaches Architectural Conservation Theory and the Historic Preservation Seminar, which take students to local historic sites, as well as sites out of state, and explore contemporary practices of historic preservation. Dupont leads graduate students on academic research projects that engage places as diverse as New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward; American Indian pueblos in New Mexico; Havana, Cuba; and San Antonio’s Missions. These projects provide important, real-life learning opportunities for graduate students, and introduce them to leaders, best practices, and new developments in the global preservation community. He also teaches advanced graduate design studio for M.Arch candidates, an unusual position for a historic preservation professor, yet normal at UTSA.

Dupont envisioned and founded the Center for Cultural Sustainability (CCS) at UTSA in 2011 and serves as its director. The Center is unlike any in the nation; its research extends beyond the building fabric toward an understanding of the continuity from past to future, and the connections between place and people. Dupont focuses the work on the larger context of cultural identity, traditions, and heritage, viewing the built environment as a manifestation of culture. Economic and natural sustainability are considered as part of cultural sustainability. The CCS provides academic research and services to benefit communities, completes large-scale research projects, provides opportunities for graduate students, and convenes leaders in the field. Dupont understood that UTSA and San Antonio are well suited for the Center, both because of UTSA’s position as a national leader in the number of degrees conferred to Hispanics and the city’s rich heritage and status as a place of historical significance.

The College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, founded in 1952, is composed of members of the institute who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. The new Fellows are entitled to use the designation “FAIA” following their names and will be vested in the College of Fellows at the 2013 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver on June 21. It is significant that UTSA’s College of Architecture currently counts three FAIA among the faculty ranks — Dupont and Senior Lecturers Diane Hays and Sue Ann Pemberton. A fourth, Andrew Perez, retired at the end of the fall 2011 semester.